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7-Eleven clerk case turned over to U.S. District Court

December 11, 2000

7-Eleven clerk case turned over to U.S. District Court



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The case of a 7-Eleven convenience store clerk who was fired for struggling with a robber has been turned over to U.S. District Court, records show.

Antonio Feliciano was fired by the company after he struggled with an armed robber July 14 at the Baker Heights store on W.Va. 9. The case has drawn national attention.

7-Eleven has asked U.S. District Court Judge Craig Broadwater to dismiss the civil suit filed by Feliciano, of Martinsburg.

Broadwater is considering whether to toss out the suit, which requests that the company pay Feliciano between $100,000 and $105,000 in punitive damages and $5,000 for physical injuries. Feliciano alleges in the suit that he was wrongfully terminated.

The company said Feliciano violated its policy by resisting the robber.

Feliciano has said he complied with company policy by handing over the money, and resisted only when the robber continued to point a shotgun at him, posing a threat to his life.

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Glenda Renee Hull, of Hedgesville, W.Va., has been charged with armed robbery and brandishing in connection with the robbery. No trial date has been set for Hull, who has not been indicted by a Berkeley County grand jury.

Feliciano's story has been the subject of national television and magazine articles. He has since obtained a job with Wal-Mart, his Martinsburg attorney, Paul Taylor, said.

7-Eleven asked for the case to be moved from Berkeley County Circuit Court to federal court this fall, a move that Taylor resisted.

A federal court can hear a civil case when the two contesting parties are from different states.

"7-Eleven is a Texas corporation," said Charles Printz, Jr. of Martinsburg, who is representing the company. "It has a right to have its case heard in federal court."

"This is a local issue," countered Taylor. "This is a state court matter. You've heard the expression about making something a federal case? Well, that's what we've got here. He was hired in Berkeley County. He was fired in Berkeley County."

Printz said he did not seek to move the case to a federal level to avoid getting a local jury that might be sympathetic to Feliciano's claim that he fought with the robber to save his life.

Taylor has said in court papers that there is a public policy of allowing individuals to use self-defense for cases such as this one. Feliciano complied with the company policy, and struggled with Hull only when giving her the money did not end the threat to his life, Taylor said.

But Printz said in court papers that no court has ever acknowledged self-defense as a public policy in cases like this. Creating a broad precedent for a defense of self-defense could open the door to many more cases like this in the future, he said.

In the absence of such a public policy on the issue, he has said Broadwater must throw out the case.

Broadwater has given no indication when he will rule on the matter. If he doesn't dismiss the case, it is scheduled to be tried in November 2001.

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